Michael Downing aka Signal-to-Noise is an electro-rock artist based in Chicago. In December 2014, Michael Downing, with a bit of savings and the invaluable support of family and friends, left his day job to become a full-time musician. Says Michael: “Up until that point all of my major life decisions were based on fear. Fear of disappointing others, fear of becoming impoverished, fear of the consequences of not following the beaten path. I had forgotten that life is an experience, an ever-changing amalgamation of thoughts and feelings whose substance can only be defined by the experiencer. And so I seek to redefine my own life.”
He locked himself away in his Chicago apartment, sheltered from the winter in order to compose, record and produce his first full length Signal-to-Noise album, entitled “I Won’t Let the World Become a Prison”.
Eccentric and familiar at the same time; this full length album is nothing short of spellbinding. Borrowing heavily from electronic, rock and alternative pop elements the album packs a futuristic vintage punch. Downing’s voice is always in superb harmonic reverence to the past, while the music constitutes the very same greatness.
The music is full of mystical spirit; graceful and at times melancholic while at others invigorating, all finely spun into a genius work of art unlike anything else; easily one of the most original and beautiful electro-rock and alternative pop albums to come along in a long time.
Shimmering, ethereal harmonies combine with delicately eclectic rhythms and thoughtfully arranged instrumentation, while Signal-to-Noise’s lyrical imagery conjures up emotional rollercoaster rides. Ultimately “I Won’t Let the World Become a Prison” really defies description. It’s at the same time electronic, baroque, very folk and almost progressive rock in its approach! Listen to ‘Biologic’, then move on to ‘Presque Vu’, now listen to ‘Firebox’. Hear what I mean?
Signal-to-Noise is pretty unlike anything you’re currently listening to. Amazing melodic and harmonic structures, varied chord progressions, poignant lyrics and stunning vocals are only part of why this project is so different to the rest. Something about the music feels very airy and woodsy, which is very hard to explain. Each listen reveals something new.
There are hardly the words to describe how utterly impressive this album is. Making it is extremely difficult not to succumb to a feeling of uncontrolled euphoria when listening to “I Won’t Let the World Become a Prison”, which possesses a sound that is at once hypnotic and intoxicating.
It is virtually impossible to have only one or two favorites among the 11 tracks on this album but if I had to pick just two – for the lyrics, the empathy and the emotion, it would be “Something To Say” and “Night Owl”.
Sleek and almost soothing, but clearly influenced by rock, with a dreamlike quality and an indelible dash of contemporary electronic flavors, Signal-to-Noise delivers smooth, wavy echoes of lusciously thick sound you can almost taste!